Shanghai, China’s capital of modernity: the production of space and urban experience of World Expo 2010

Wong, Pui Fung (2014). Shanghai, China’s capital of modernity: the production of space and urban experience of World Expo 2010. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines Shanghai’s urbanisation by applying Henri Lefebvre’s theories of the production of space and everyday life. A review of Lefebvre’s theories indicates that each mode of production produces its own space. Capitalism is perpetuated by producing new space and commodifying everyday life. Applying Lefebvre’s regressive-progressive method as a methodological framework, this thesis periodises Shanghai’s history to the ‘semi-feudal, semi-colonial era’, ‘socialist reform era’ and ‘post-socialist reform era’. The Shanghai World Exposition 2010 was chosen as a case study to exemplify how urbanisation shaped urban experience. Empirical data was collected through semi-structured interviews. This thesis argues that Shanghai developed a ‘state-led/-participation mode of production’. The state redefined its distributive role to act as both a regulator and a market player, and manipulated its regulatory power to generate revenue from land commodification. The state thus accelerated urbanisation by relocating residents to new towns. Inhabitants’ daily routines were rearranged. Lefebvre envisaged an urban revolution to occur when urbanisation is complete. But my data illustrates that civil resistance is not widely supported because urbanisation has generally improved living quality. This thesis concludes by examining the possibility of Shanghai’s resuming its status as the site of modernisation and the critique of modernity.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory


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